Bradley snatches WGC from Furyk on 72nd hole

By Doug FergusonAugust 5, 2012, 10:24 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Keegan Bradley never looked like a winner over four days and 71 holes at Firestone until he poured in a 15-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday.

Given the way golf has gone this year, no one should have been surprised.

Two weeks after Adam Scott gave up a four-shot lead with four holes to play in the British Open, Jim Furyk was poised to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Bridgestone Invitational until he made double bogey from the middle of the 18th fairway.

His 5-foot bogey putt to at least get into a playoff never had a chance, and he immediately dropped his putter and bent over with a mixture of shock and disgust.

''I led the golf tournament the entire way and lost it on the very last hole,'' Furyk said. ''To get that close and to know that I played more than good enough to win the golf tournament, and not close the door, is disappointing. It is a cruel game. I've lost some tournaments in some pretty poor fashions, but I don't think I've let one ever slip nearly as bad as this one. This was my worst effort to finish off an event.''

Lost in his 18th hole collapse was a sterling performance by Bradley, who shot 31 on the back and came up with one clutch putt after another. None was bigger than the final stroke of his 6-under 64. After blasting out of a plugged lie in the bunker, he poured in a 15-foot putt for par that turned out to be the winner.

''I didn't think for a second I was going to miss it,'' Bradley said. ''It was unbelievable. I got behind it, and I barely even had to read it. I knew the exact way it was going to break. I just needed to hit it hard enough. I knew that. And it was dead center.''

Furyk led by one shot playing the 18th and got a huge break when his tee shot bounced out of the trees to the left and back into the fairway. That's where it all fell apart. His 7-iron went long, into a bunker and hopped out into the collar. He had to place his left foot in the sand to play a shot with the ball sitting up, and the delicate chip barely cleared the bunker and settled into more thick grass.

The chip for his fourth shot was a clunker, stopping 5 feet short of the pin, and the bogey putt was what Furyk called ''my worst putt of the week.''

Bradley won for the third time in his career, his last win coming a year ago at the PGA Championship. He became the 11th player to win a major and a World Golf Championship, and the win moved him to No. 4 in the Ryder Cup standings. With one week left to grab one of eight spots, he's all but assured of making his first team.

''My hope standing on the 18th tee was to make birdie and maybe force a playoff,'' Bradley said. ''But you know, just from being out here, you just never know what's going to happen.''

It was the 11th time this year - and fourth time in the last five weeks - that the winner came from at least four shots behind in the final round.

The ending was devastating for Furyk in so many ways.

He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open with three holes to play when he hooked his tee shot on the 16th hole, made bogey and never caught up. This time, he was in control at Firestone from his opening 63, all the way through the final round when he started with three straight birdies and made an 18-foot birdie on the 16th to seemingly hold off the late charge by Bradley.

''I have no one to blame but myself,'' Furyk said. ''But when things go wrong, it's an empty feeling. I'm disappointed. I walked over, my boy is crying right after the round. And I guess it reminds you as an adult - as a parent - that you have to act the proper way. You have to do and say the right things to try to give the right lessons.

''But there's no way I should have made any worse than 5 on the last hole,'' he said. ''There's no way I should have done worse than a playoff.''

He went from what appeared to be a certain win to a 69 and a tie for second with Steve Stricker, who made four birdies on his last five holes for a 64.

Bradley was four shots behind going into the final round, and was six shots back when Furyk opened with three straight birdies. Bradley kept pecking away at the lead, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the seventh, scrambling for par on the 12th, and starting the back nine with a pair of birdies.

Furyk finally answered with an 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th, only for Bradley to follow him in for birdie from 12 feet. Bradley took only 12 putts on the back nine, including par saves on the final two holes.

He finished on 13-under 267.

Stricker found his putting stroke at Firestone - not that it was ever deep in hiding - and showed that down the stretch with his closing stretch of birdies. It was an important performance for Stricker, who moved up three spots to No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings. Furyk is No. 11, followed by Rickie Fowler at No. 12.

Louis Oosthuizen closed with a 69 to finish alone in fourth. Justin Rose (67) and Rory McIlroy (68) were another shot behind.

Tiger Woods played bogey-free for a 66, his lowest score since a 65 in the second round at Bay Hill at the end of March. He was never in the tournament, 11 shots behind going into the final round, though he picked up the tiniest of consolations. He now has back-to-back finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour for the first time in nearly three years. And he at least heads to Kiawah Island feeling good about his game.

''I hit a lot of good shots and never really sniffed making a bogey all day,'' said Woods, who played his final 23 holes without a bogey. ''I feel very good about where I'm at. I'm excited about it.''

The nature of the course changed drastically with a quarter-inch of rain overnight, and a burst of showers that stopped play for nearly three hours Sunday morning. Shots to the green were spinning back instead of bouncing forward. Pars no longer were good enough.

Furyk picked up on that quickly, and came out even stronger than he did on Saturday. He dropped only one shot when he drove to the right into the trees on No. 6 and missed a 10-footer for par. He was rarely in jeopardy the rest of the way until he found himself in the middle of the fairway on the final hole, needing a par to win.

Instead, he watched someone else take home the $1.4 million first prize.

''Keegan played a heck of a back nine,'' Furyk said. ''He did everything he needed to do to win the golf tournament. I felt like I did the same, until the 18th hole.''

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”